£2 million ‘hole’ appears in Southport Art Centre costs.

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A Report telling Councillors that nearly £2 million of extra unbudgeted spending has ‘appeared’ in the Atkinson Library/Theatre/Museum project on Southport’s Lord Street is being presented to Sefton MBC’s Cabinet which meets in Southport today.

This extra cost on the 12 million pound three year project, much of it paid for by grants, amounts to roughly 8 per cent of the entire budgeted expenditure.

There is one report in the public part of the agenda but a further item on the same subject will be debated later by the Bootle-based Cabinet members in private after the public and press are excluded from the meeting.

The report declares that a full final price was agreed with the contractor ‘Lendlease’ in December of last year but somehow a further £1.2 million has emerged in the subsequent three months and there are warnings of a further half a million pounds of previously-unbudgeted ‘fitting out costs’.

The report being presented to the councillors does not detail any of the reasons for the extra costs at all. The project is managed for Sefton Council by Capita Symonds.

Birkdale Councillor Iain Brodie Browne, Leader of the Council’s Lib Dem Opposition group said:

“It is unacceptable, having agreed a ‘full and final price’ with the contractors in December, unspecified extra costs of £1.2 million added in the next three months or so – with maybe more to come. How can the public have confidence in the council in these circumstances? Every penny needs to be checked – and not behind closed doors in Bootle.

“Sefton Council are paying considerable fees to a managing agent for this project and one wonders exactly what we are paying for. Especially now that they are threatening even more ‘fitting out costs’ of up to half a million pounds.

.”There is no doubt that the Atkinson Centre is a fine project and a great asset to the town. This does not mean that the Council Tax payer can be ‘stung’ with never-ending bills. This is not ‘peanuts’. You could keep all Southport’s branch libraries open for a decade with this sort of money.”






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